If medical treatment errors are suspected: Who can patients contact?

If medical treatment errors are suspected: Who can patients contact?

Patients can find support in various places
If a patient suspects that the doctor made a mistake in the treatment, he should under no circumstances simply come to terms with it. Instead, it is advisable to contact either the doctor or a counseling center to clarify the case. In an interview with the "dpa" news agency, an expert gives tips on where patients can get support in such a case.

The number of reported suspected cases is increasing
If a doctor does not inform his patient sufficiently or late about a treatment or incorrectly doses medication, experts speak of a treatment error. An incorrectly inserted hip joint, the implementation of therapy based on outdated knowledge or a swab forgotten in the patient's body during surgery can also be grounds for claims for compensation for pain and suffering. The number of cases is still high: According to a report by the German Medical Association, a total of 11,822 patients reported suspicions of a treatment error to the arbitration boards and expert commissions in 2015 (2014: 12,053).

The most common diagnoses that led to the allegations were knee and hip arthrosis, as well as lower leg and ankle fractures. A decision was made 7,215 times last year, and the acceptance was confirmed in 2,132 cases (2014: 2,252), according to information from the German Medical Association. Of these, the patients suffered health damage in 1,774 cases, which justified the right to compensation. It had only recently become known that in Thuringia alone there had been several deaths due to medical errors in the past year.

Keep important information in a patient diary If you suspect a treatment error in yourself or a relative, you can contact various places. One possibility is to discuss the suspicion directly with the doctor. "The doctor is obliged to answer specific questions," Regina Behrendt, consultant for the health market at the Consumer Advice Center North Rhine-Westphalia, told dpa. However, it is best to take a witness with you to the interview because the burden of proof lies with the patient. For this reason, according to the expert, it is also advisable to keep a patient diary in order to keep as far as possible "[,,,] all possible details and facts in the context of a memory protocol."

This includes, among other things, the name of the treating doctor and the nurse, data from treatments or consultations and the contact information of the person next to the bed. In addition, of course, everything should be noted, "which seems a little strange," said the expert.

Health insurance companies can inspect the files
The health insurance companies are generally available for advice. They are obliged to support their insured persons if they suspect a treatment error. If the person concerned has released the doctor from his obligation to maintain confidentiality, the health insurance fund can inspect the files and check for irregularities. If there is evidence of incorrect behavior, the insurance company can commission an expert opinion from the medical service of the health insurance companies (MDK), explains Regina Behrendt. If the suspicion intensifies, it is advisable to seek advice from a specialist lawyer for medical law, “if only to know the limitation periods,” says the expert. However, the patient has to bear the costs himself, and Behrendt points out that it can also be expensive if the matter goes to court.

The arbitration boards of the German Medical Association can also help in the event of a suspected treatment error. Here, however, the doctor must first give his consent to arbitration. If this is the case, the arbitration enables an out-of-court settlement. This offer - as well as advice from the health insurance company - is free of charge for those affected. (No)

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